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Information and discussion about canning and dehydrating tomatoes and other garden vegetables and fruits. DISCLAIMER: SOME RECIPES MAY NOT COMPLY WITH CURRENT FOOD SAFETY GUIDELINES - FOLLOW AT YOUR OWN RISK

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Old October 16, 2012   #31
coronabarb
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Hey guys! You all can certainly preserve your food any which way you choose! I understand that canning methods are sometimes handed down through families and are a way of life to some. But for canning recipes here at Tomatoville we want only approved recipes for canning using water bath or pressure canning. Tomatoville does not want someone blaming it for getting sick from a recipe here. Them's the rules. I guess I should 'sticky' it on each forum.

Worth, I'm not chastising anyone and I'm sorry if anyone takes it that way.
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Old October 16, 2012   #32
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Folks, please go easy on Barb - she volunteered to moderate this forum and enforce my policy, not her own.

It boils down to this (no pun intended) - In this age of litigious frivolity, I have to be ridiculously cautious about what is posted here. The last thing I want or need is to have to defend myself against a lawsuit filed by an opportunistic lowlife, claiming he/she became ill after following a canning recipe posted here.

However small, the possibility of this happening sadly, does exist. As a compromise, if you do have a treasured family recipe that you wish to share, but are unsure of whether or not it complies with modern day guidelines, please begin your post with the disclaimer:

MAY NOT COMPLY WITH CURRENT FOOD SAFETY GUIDELINES - FOLLOW RECIPE AT YOUR OWN RISK

It's the same reason why plastic bag manufacturers print "This is NOT a toy" on their bags and coffee cups have the words "Caution: HOT" printed on them.


For an interesting insight on just how far some people will go to sue because of their own stupidity, click HERE















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Old October 16, 2012   #33
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Mischka, that's a sensible policy considering the context. And Barb, no harm intended either. This is a fantastic forum because of the policies and the moderators - no spam, no flame wars, I appreciate it very much.

The USDA recipes are really bulletproof - they're designed to make sure that contaminated food is rendered harmless (or not fatal!) in the process. Whereas for most of us who grow our own, the clean and pristine quality of the food is first in mind, as is often stated in the recipe as well.
The boiling water bath for pickles is a failsafe against errors in judging the pH or the "available water" in a final product, or having reached the temperature required for pasteurization (in case the quality is not as pristine as you think), as well as ensuring a foolproof hermetic seal for the best keeping qualities.
It's a shame that boiling the gosh-darnoodly out of something also takes away some qualities we wanted to keep, (crisp pickled peppers, full-flavoured matsutake pickles, etc..) so I appreciate that you will allow us to share and discuss the hot fill/hold recipes that apply "AT OUR OWN RISK", even if they don't come from a USDA recipe book.

That being said, if I follow a recipe at my own risk, I'm the kind of person who wants to know exactly how to assess how much of a risk is involved in a specific recipe. That's why I spent a few days reading up, so I can be satisfied that my past and future pickle recipes are not putting us in harm's way, and gives me the ability to evaluate "unapproved" recipes that might appeal to me, and how to store them.

Jams and jellies, and "acid foods" (eg most tomato, natural pH 4.6 or less) or well designed and pasteurized "acidified foods" (pickles with Aw 0.90 or less and pH 4.6 or less, heated entirely including the glassware to the necessary pasteurization temperature) do not support the growth of food-borne bacterial pathogens. In case of a pasteurization failure, the only bacterial pathogen that can grow at Aw 0.90/low pH is Staph aureus. If pasteurization failure is a risk, the pickles can be stored at temperatures below 10 C (50 F) to prevent S. aureus toxin production and eliminate that risk, according to the reference document linked above. (Also the reason it's better to scrub fresh veggies in cold rather than hot water!). Final risk, a bad seal might lead to yeast or mold spoilage, which can be seen with the naked eye, and tasted. Given the climate for litigation in poor taste, maybe we should add "Discard when mouldy" to the cautionary labels.
One of the documents I read this weekend was a draft guidance document from USDA, which acknowledged that there is no record of a single case of food poisoning caused by "fermented foods" that is, the traditional recipes for fermented pickles, sauerkraut etc. So I'm not surprised RedBaron survived his childhood.

C'mon Worth, please share your secret pickled pepper recipe "AT MY RISK".
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Old October 17, 2012   #34
Worth1
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My secret is to make your brine taste the way you like it.
If you don't like the flavor of this you wont like the pickles.

For pickled beets if you like them sweet add more sugar if you like cloves add them.
For super hot peppers like habs I will add sugar to the vinegar with some salt.

They were a real big hit at work.

As for how to process that is entirely up to you.

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Old October 17, 2012   #35
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Worth,

My first pickle adventure was a very sweet one. Adapted from a Swedish recipe for pickled chanterelles, the brine is 1 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 cup plain vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 2 cups sugar and 1/2 tsp salt (which I have now figured out to be starting pH of 3.3) plus spices (cinnamon, cloves, pepper for winter chanterelles. I use a wine vinegar and bay, rosemary, garlic, thyme instead for hedgehogs). The recipe calls for simmering the mushrooms in the brine 20-30 minutes.
I kept the pickles in the fridge initially as I wasn't sure of the keeping qualities, but after a couple of years of slooow housekeeping, found that jars of leftover pickle vinegar which were left on the counter (okay, for months), never spoiled. I use that stuff for meat marinades now, since it's too good to throw away!

Last year I tried a pure vinegar/sugar brine poured hot over raw pepperoncini peppers, carrots, onions. The pickles were great on a cheese tray, nice and crisp, but could be a little less vinegary for my taste.

This year I'm trying a more salty basic brine for raw peppers/vegs: 2 cups vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup salt, 1/2 cup sugar (starting pH is still around 3.3, around the 12% brine) plus spices. Can't say what it's like cause I haven't tasted it yet.

I also made some sweet and hot matsutake pickles this year with raw chilaca peppers, reducing the mushroom simmer time to 5 minutes in hopes of conserving the aroma, maybe use the pickled chunks in a hot and sour soup.

I definitely like pickles. I'm not sure how picky I am about em. Eventually, I'll have some real favourites...
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Old October 27, 2012   #36
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Just to clarify things I found this study on tomatilloes.

Nothing bothers me more than what I call over kill on preservatives.
I have also found recipes adding yet more acid to acidic food that is already acidic enough just to make sure.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...8Qkw3g&cad=rja

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Old June 25, 2015   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bower View Post

The pH of the usual 5% vinegar used in pickling recipes is 2.4. Pure water is pH 7.0 but in practice may be above or below 7. A 1:1 ratio of vinegar to water in a recipe would be 2.4+7/2 = 4.7 if the water is neutral pH. So unless the food being pickled is also acid, there's no reason to expect the final pH from this recipe ratio would be 4.6 or less. Recipes with a higher ratio of vinegar to water could be used to provide a margin for error, and reasonable certainty the final pH isn't too high. 4.6 is an important benchmark because it prevents growth and germination of Clostridium botulinum spores. Pasteurization temperatures are also lower, the lower the pH, and the process is expected to kill any vegetative cells of other pathogens and hermetically seal the jars.
I know this is an older thread/post, but I wanted to point out that the above calculation doesn't work. pH is a log scale, which means you can't simply add and divide like this. In fact, with the above sample information, the end pH if mixed in equal proportions would be 2.7, not 4.7 as suggested.

-log(0.003981mol/L*.5L + 0.0000001mol/L * 0.5L)= 2.7

Mixing vinegar and water in equal proportions is fine, and will prevent botulism, provided the food stuff itself doesn't have significant buffering capacity/alkalinity.

Cheers,

MEB
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Old June 25, 2015   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moray-eel-bite View Post
I know this is an older thread/post, but I wanted to point out that the above calculation doesn't work. pH is a log scale, which means you can't simply add and divide like this. In fact, with the above sample information, the end pH if mixed in equal proportions would be 2.7, not 4.7 as suggested.

-log(0.003981mol/L*.5L + 0.0000001mol/L * 0.5L)= 2.7

Mixing vinegar and water in equal proportions is fine, and will prevent botulism, provided the food stuff itself doesn't have significant buffering capacity/alkalinity.

Cheers,

MEB
MEB, I appreciate the correction ( and I really don't know how to do calculations in log scales). I would like to get this right, and have a correct idea of the pH in different mixtures of vinegar and water.
But is there possibly an error in your calculation?
By this reckoning, a mixture of vinegar and water would end up with a lower pH than the vinegar we started with in the first place..???
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Old June 25, 2015   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moray-eel-bite View Post
I know this is an older thread/post, but I wanted to point out that the above calculation doesn't work. pH is a log scale, which means you can't simply add and divide like this. In fact, with the above sample information, the end pH if mixed in equal proportions would be 2.7, not 4.7 as suggested.

-log(0.003981mol/L*.5L + 0.0000001mol/L * 0.5L)= 2.7

Mixing vinegar and water in equal proportions is fine, and will prevent botulism, provided the food stuff itself doesn't have significant buffering capacity/alkalinity.

Cheers,

MEB
Thanks. That was bugging me.
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Old June 25, 2015   #40
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hmm, I use ph paper, can not do calculations either
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Old June 25, 2015   #41
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Ah... I should never read before finishing my coffee. Just realized the starting pH of the vinegar was 2.4, so of course your result is correct.
I was really thrown off by the log scale issue. It actually takes very little vinegar to lower the pH of water, if a neutral 7.0 value is assumed for water. I guess that means a lot more pickle recipes are safe - it's a good thing.
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Old June 25, 2015   #42
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I made a few assumptions for this.. Ie equal proportions of vinegar and water with a pH of 7. I also more or less treated acetic acid like a strong acid, which isn't true, but works well enough for this example. The reason your calc. Won't work is that ph 2 is 100000 times more concentrated in hydronium ions than ph 7. So of course the end result is much closer to the vinegar than the water (you're only diluting by two-fold). The equation for ph is ph=-log(hydronium ion). Hence the log scale.
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Old June 25, 2015   #43
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Indeed.. I completely forgot pH was a log scale at the time I was reading up on pickle.... I do know how it works - decibel is another log scale - but I find it hard to relate to/ compare such disparate values in my mind, I guess I don't think well in logs. Of course, if I claimed to be a 'calipers person' that would also be a lie.
I've been using a measuring cup to make pickle brine, as if it mattered!
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